The St. Pete Pier District will now have new courtesy docks and may see possible changes to the seawall.
The St. Pete City Council on Thursday unanimously approved an amendment to incorporate 25 floating courtesy docks near the St. Pete Pier as part of the district’s waterfront assets.
The city would incorporate the docks similar to how it has incorporated and operated the docks near Fresco’s Waterfront Bistro restaurant on Bayshore Drive, said Chris Ballestra, managing director of development for the City of St. Petersburg.
The vessels docked at the courtesy docks could be used for recreational and/or educational purposes. For example, the nonprofit Tampa Bay Watch group, which runs the Tampa Bay Watch Discovery Watch Center on the pier, can use the docks for its eco-tours as the use falls under educational purposes.
However, the vessels at the courtesy docks cannot be used for commercial or nonrecreational purposes such as loading and unloading of commercially harvested seafood products or other goods.
“The goal for these courtesy docks is obviously for public use. It’s long been something we’ve not had in the city,” Ballestra said.
Councilmember and mayoral candidate Darden Rice asked about the pier becoming the St. Pete terminus for the Cross-Bay Ferry, which currently utilizes the Vinoy Marina as its St. Pete location and the Tampa Convention Center on the others end of its journey.
Ballestra said the pier is designed to handle the ferry, if the operators decide to use the pier.
The city may also make changes to the seawall by the pier in an area where commercial ships once cruised.
“We have the ability to bring in those tall ships and recreate what we had before – a more active space,” Ballestra said, noting that it is subject to the budget.
Off the water, the city plans to rework the grassy lawn area where the Janet Echelman “Bending Arc” sculpture is installed.
The city also plans to add more shading in the district.